The relationship between lower intelligence, crime and custodial outcomes : a brief literary review of a vulnerable group

Freeman, James E. (2012) The relationship between lower intelligence, crime and custodial outcomes : a brief literary review of a vulnerable group. Vulnerable Groups and Inclusion, 3.

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The relationship between intellectual functioning and criminal offending has received considerable focus within the literature. While there remains debate regarding the existence (and strength) of this relationship, there is a wider consensus that individuals with below average functioning (in particular cognitive impairments) are disproportionately represented within the prison population. This paper focuses on research that has implications for the effective management of lower functioning individuals within correctional environments as well as the successful rehabilitation and release of such individuals back into the community. This includes a review of the literature regarding the link between lower intelligence and offending and the identification of possible factors that either facilitate (or confound) this relationship. The main themes to emerge from this review are that individuals with lower intellectual functioning continue to be disproportionately represented in custodial settings and that there is a need to increase the provision of specialised programs to cater for their needs. Further research is also needed into a range of areas including: (1) the reason for this over-representation in custodial settings, (2) the existence and effectiveness of rehabilitation and release programs that cater for lower IQ offenders, (3) the effectiveness of custodial alternatives for this group (e.g. intensive corrections orders) and (4) what post-custodial release services are needed to reduce the risk of recidivism.

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ID Code: 51050
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: intelligence, crime, custody, rehabilitation
DOI: 10.3402/vgi.v3i0.14834
ISSN: 2000-8023
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 J. Freeman
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-
Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License (, permitting all non-commercial
use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Deposited On: 25 Jun 2012 22:34
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2012 23:47

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